Family Matters is an American television sitcom that originated on ABC from September 22, 1989 to May 9, 1997, before moving to CBS from September 19, 1997 to July 17, 1998. A spin-off of Perfect Strangers, the series revolves around the Winslow family, a middle-class African-American family living in Chicago, Illinois. Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows’ nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), who was originally scripted to appear as a one-time character; however, he quickly became the show's breakout character (and eventually the main character), joining the main cast. Having run for nine seasons, Family Matters became the second-longest-running non-animated U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast, behind only The Jeffersons (11 seasons). Having aired 215 episodes, Family Matters is ranked third, behind only Tyler Perry's House of Payne (254), and The Jeffersons (253).
|Theme music composer||Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay & Scott Roeme|
(first five episodes only: Bob Thiele, George David Weiss & George Douglas)
|Opening theme||"As Days Go By,"|
performed by Jesse Frederick
(originally in first five episodes only: "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong)
|Ending theme||Instrumental theme,|
composed by Jesse Frederick & Bennett Salvay (seasons 1–4)
Gary Boren (seasons 5–9)
|Composers||Jesse Frederick &|
Bennett Salvay (both; seasons 1–2)
Gary Boren (seasons 3–5 and 8–9)
Steven Chesne (seasons 4–7 and 9)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||215 (list of episodes)|
|Camera setup||Film; Multi-camera|
|Running time||approx. 24½ minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 22, 1989 –|
July 17, 1998
|Preceded by||Perfect Strangers (1986–93)|
The series was a spinoff from the ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers; both shows aired Fridays nights on ABC's primetime slot called "TGIF" (Thank God It's Friday). Jo Marie Payton played Harriette Winslow, the elevator operator at a newspaper where Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous also worked. Reginald Vel Johnson would make cameos on the show as Harriette's husband Carl Winslow, a Chicago police officer. ABC and the producers loved the character Harriette for her great morale and quick-witted humor and decided to create a show that would focus on her and her family, husband Carl, son Eddie, elder daughter Laura, and younger daughter Judy (who appeared until the character was written out in season four). In the pilot episode, "The Mama Who Came to Dinner," the family had also opened their home to Carl's street-wise mother, Estelle (Rosetta LeNoire), usually known as "Mother Winslow." Prior to the start of the series, Harriette's sister, Rachel Crawford and her infant son, Richie, had moved into the Winslow household after the death of Rachel's husband. The Winslows' nerdy teenage next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), was introduced midway through the first season in the episode "Rachel's First Date" and quickly became the focus of the show. The popular sitcom was a mainstay of ABC's TGIF lineup from 1989 until 1997, at which point it became part of the CBS Block Party lineup for its final season. Family Matters was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions (1991–1998) and Miller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television (1989–1993) and later Warner Bros. Television (1993–1998). As the show progressed, episodes began to center increasingly on Steve Urkel, and other original characters also played by White, including Steve's suave alter-ego, Stefan Urquelle, and his female cousin, Myrtle Urkel.
In early 1997, CBS picked up Family Matters and Step by Step in a $40 million deal to acquire the rights to the programs from ABC. ABC then promised to pay Miller-Boyett Productions $1.5 million per episode for a ninth and tenth season of Family Matters. However, tensions had risen between Miller-Boyett Productions and ABC's corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company (which had bought the network in 1995 as part of its merger with ABC's then-parent Capital Cities/ABC Inc.). Miller-Boyett thought that it would not be a big player on ABC after the network's recent purchase by Disney. In turn, Miller-Boyett Productions agreed to a $40 million offer from CBS for a 22-episode season for both Family Matters and Step By Step (along with a new production from the company, Meego). CBS scheduled Family Matters along with Meego and Step By Step as a part of its new Friday lineup branded as the CBS Block Party and scheduled the family-oriented block against ABC's TGIF lineup, where the two series originated. Although Jo Marie Payton was reluctant to continue and wanted to leave, feeling the show had jumped the shark years prior and her contract had just expired, she agreed to stay for the first half of the season to keep continuity and, partway through, her part was recast with Judyann Elder.
Family Matters, while it continued to lose viewership compared to previous years, was initially a modest success on CBS, beating the show that replaced it, You Wish. Meego, however, was a ratings failure and was canceled after six weeks. Near the end of the ninth season, the cast was informed that a tenth and final season was planned, so scripts and plot synopses were written for the show. After the holiday special season, CBS replaced Meego with Kids Say the Darndest Things, and with that show's child-centered focus, it was placed in Family Matters' 8/7c time slot, with Family Matters pushed an hour later and paired with Step by Step. The ratings for Family Matters fell even further in this later slot, and the entire Block Party except for Kids Say... was canceled in spring 1998, with the remaining episodes burned off in the summer.
|Reginald VelJohnson||Carl Otis Winslow||Main|
|Jo Marie Payton[note 1]||Harriette Baines Winslow||Main|
|Judyann Elder[note 1]||Main|
|Darius McCrary||Edward "Eddie" Winslow||Main|
|Kellie Shanygne Williams||Laura Lee Winslow||Main|
|Jaimee Foxworth||Judith "Judy" Winslow[note 2]||Main|
|Rosetta LeNoire||Estelle "Mother" Winslow||Main||Guest|
|Richard "Richie" Crawford||Main|
|Telma Hopkins||Rachel Baines Crawford||Main||Recurring||Guest|
|Jaleel White||Steven "Steve" Quincy Urkel||Recurring[note 3]||Main|
|Shawn Harrison||Waldo Geraldo Faldo||Recurring||Main|
|Michelle Thomas||Myra Monkhouse||Recurring||Main|
|Orlando Brown||Jerry Jamal "3J" Jameson||Recurring||Main|
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||22||September 22, 1989||April 27, 1990||ABC||39||13.7|
|2||25||September 21, 1990||May 3, 1991||15||15.8|
|3||25||September 20, 1991||May 8, 1992||27||13.5|
|4||24||September 18, 1992||May 14, 1993||32||12.6|
|5||24||September 24, 1993||May 20, 1994||30||12.6|
(Tied with The ABC Sunday Night Movie)
|6||25||September 23, 1994||May 19, 1995||34||11.6|
|7||24||September 22, 1995||May 17, 1996||42||10.5|
|8||24||September 20, 1996||May 9, 1997||50||8.8|
|9||22||September 19, 1997||July 17, 1998||CBS||108||5.9|
Family Matters was created by William Bickley and Michael Warren (who also wrote for, and were producers of parent series Perfect Strangers) and developed by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett (who also served as executive producers on Perfect Strangers), all four also served as executive producers of the series. The series was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television who co-produced the show until 1993, when Warner Bros. Television absorbed Lorimar (a sister company under the co-ownership of Time Warner). Starting with season three, the series was also produced by Bickley-Warren Productions. The series was filmed in front of a live studio audience; the Lorimar-produced episodes were shot at Lorimar Studios (later Sony Pictures Studios) in Culver City, California, while the Warner Bros.-produced episodes were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in nearby Burbank. Family Matters is the second sitcom to take place in Chicago, the first is Married... with Children. Family Matters also aired from 1989 to 1998, along with Seinfeld.
The show's original theme was Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"; it was scrapped after the fifth episode of season one ("Straight A's"), though it was heard only in the pilot episode in syndicated reruns. The second theme, "As Days Go By," written by Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay and Scott Roeme and performed by Frederick, was the theme for the majority of the series until 1995. The sixth season's opening credits was last used in the season seven episodes "Talk's Cheap" and "Fa La La La Laagghh," the only two episodes during the final three seasons to feature the theme song (this was heard in season one episodes in ABC Family and syndicated airings). A longer version of "As Days Go By" was used during the first three seasons, though in syndicated reruns the short version is heard (in ABC Family airings, the long theme was used for all of the episodes during the first three seasons).
Family Matters is set in the same "TV universe" as several other TV shows related to ABC's TGIF or CBS's Block Party. Before Family Matters, Harriette Winslow was originally the elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle newspaper office in the third and fourth seasons of Perfect Strangers. Family Matters was a spin-off series given to this character in 1989. Characters from Family Matters appeared on other shows including Full House, Boy Meets World, Step by Step and Meego.
In September 1993, Warner Bros. Television Distribution began distributing Family Matters for broadcast in off-network syndication; most television stations stopped carrying the show by around 2002, though some stations in larger markets such as WTOG in Tampa, Florida continued to air Family Matters until as recently as 2005 and New York's WPIX as 2006. In 1995, reruns of the series began airing on TBS Superstation, where it ran until 2003. The series would return to TBS after 17 years later on February 3, 2020.
From 1997 to 2003, reruns of the series aired on WGN America. In 2003, ABC Family picked up the series and aired it for five years until February 29, 2008. From 2004 to 2006, UPN aired the show for 2 years. BET aired reruns briefly in December 2009 and began airing the series on a regular basis on March 1, 2013. MTV2 also began airing reruns on September 7, 2013. The show aired on Nick at Nite from June 29, 2008 to December 31, 2012. ABC Family and Nick at Nite airings cut the tag scenes at the end of all episodes, despite the fact that many episodes during the series have tag scenes during the closing credits. In 2019, the series now airs on TVOne. In Canada, the series also aired on CTV and CBC for reruns.
Warner Home Video has released the first four seasons of Family Matters on DVD in Region 1 while the remaining five seasons were released by the Warner Archive Collection. On February 4, 2014, Warner Home Video released season 4 on DVD, but consumers complained when it was found that the season 4 set contained syndication edits rather than the original broadcast masters. Warner Bros. responded to the complaints, offered a replacement program to receive corrected discs and reissuing the set with corrected broadcast copies on April 4, 2014. All episodes are the original broadcast form, except for the episode "Number One With a Bullet", disc 1, episode 6. The entire series is also available for digital download on Amazon.com and the iTunes Store, all but season 6 remastered in both SD and HD.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete 1st Season||22||June 8, 2010|
|The Complete 2nd Season||25||February 14, 2012|
|The Complete 3rd Season||25||February 12, 2013|
|The Complete 4th Season||24||February 4, 2014|
|The Complete 5th Season||24||February 16, 2016|
|The Complete 6th Season||25||April 12, 2016|
|The Complete 7th Season||24||July 26, 2016|
|The Complete 8th Season||24||September 20, 2016|
|The Complete 9th Season||22||November 8, 2016|
Awards, nominations and other receptionEdit
|1991||BMI Film & TV Awards||Won||BMI TV Music Award||Bennett Salvay|
|1992||Won||BMI TV Music Award||Bennett Salvay|
|1996||Emmy Award||Nominated||Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects||Kelly Sandefur|
(For episode "Send in the Clone")
|1994||NAACP Image Awards||Won||Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress||Jaleel White|
|1995||Won||Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress||Jaleel White|
|1996||Nominated||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Jaleel White|
|1997||Nominated||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Jaleel White|
|1996||Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||Nominated||Favorite Television Show|
|Nominated||Favorite Television Actor||Jaleel White|
|2008||TV Land Awards||Nominated||Favorite Character(s) Who "Went Missing"||Jaimee Foxworth|
|1990||Young Artist Award||Nominated||Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series||Darius McCrary|
|Nominated||Best New Television Series|
|Won||Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series||Randy Josselyn|
|1991||Nominated||Best Young Actress Supporting or Re-Occurring Role for a TV Series||Jaimee Foxworth|
|Nominated||Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Series||Kellie Shanygne Williams|
|Nominated||Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series||Darius McCrary|
|Won||Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series||Jaleel White|
|1992||Nominated||Outstanding Young Comedienne in a Television Series||Kellie Shanygne Williams|
|1993||Nominated||Outstanding Young Comedienne in a Television Series||Kellie Shanygne Williams|
|Nominated||Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series||Darius McCrary|
|Nominated||Best Young Actress Recurring in a Television Series||Cherie Johnson|
|Nominated||Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series||Patrick J. Dancy|
|Nominated||Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Television Series||Shawn Harrison|
|Won||Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series||Bumper Robinson|
(Tied with Aeryk Egan for Brooklyn Bridge)
- Fearn-Banks, Kathleen (2006). Historical Dictionary of African-American Television. 7. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 135. ISBN 0-8108-5335-3.
- Fisherkeller, JoEllen (2002). Growing Up With Television: Everyday Learning Among Young Adolescents. Temple University Press. pp. 178. ISBN 1-56639-953-X.
- Haithman, Diane (January 4, 1991). "Is Uncool Urkel the '90s Answer to the Fonz?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- Bellafante, Ginia (December 9, 1996). "Revenge of The Nerd". Time. Time.com. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- Boedeker, Hal (July 18, 1997). "He's A Goober But CBS Has A Lot Riding On Urkel TV". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- Hatchett, Keisha (September 29, 2017). "This Is Not a Drill: Boy Meets World Is Now On Hulu". TVGuide.com. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
- "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters – The Complete First Season". Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
- "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters – The Complete Second Season". Archived from the original on March 17, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
- "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters – The Complete Third Season". Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
- "Family Matters: The complete Fourth Season Season". Archived from the original on December 27, 2015.
- "Family Matters – EXCLSUVE! Release Date for 'The Complete 5th Season DVD". Archived from the original on December 27, 2015. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- "Family Matters – Warner Archive Gives Us the CORRECT Word About 'The Complete 6th Season' DVDs". Archived from the original on March 17, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- http://videoeta.com/movie/187908/family-matters-the-complete-eighth-season/[permanent dead link]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 22, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)